Submission–One Woman’s Thoughts

I had this talk with an English teacher the other day about a conference she had attended, and I have been trying to post on it, but it has something to do with education and something to do with submission, and I haven’t been able to separate it out, so I decided to deal with the education part first. Here goes.

Two teachers at my school attended a conference at which Erin Gruwell, the teacher of the Freedom Writers, spoke. They are both pretty fired up about it. They teach kids whose parents can’t help the and for whom court dates are a way of life, although these kids have small problems compared to the ones Gruwell taught.

One teacher told me about all that Ms. Gruwell had sacrificed for “her” kids. Have you seen the movie? Gruwell worked extra jobs to supply her students with materials the public schools would not make available to her. Sh doubled her work hours at least and, as a result, she sacrificed her marriage.

The teacher who went to the conference and I could agree with what Gruwell did. Despite what the public thinks, it is pretty near impossible to be a good English teacher and get your work done in forty hours. I taught at a parochial school where, in theory at least, the parents supported both their children and the teachers, and I still spent sixty plus hours hours on my job planning and grading. That didn’t count any extra work with the kids, and I didn’t, for the most part, transport them or visit their homes as Gruwell did. I’m not complaining. I think that, to do the job right, you have to have that many hours. Still, there is a cost. For Gruwell, part of the cost was her marriage. That’s what the teacher and I talked about.

“Do you remember the scene in the movie where Erin asks her husband why he can’t support her like wives support their husbands? She says wives cook and take care of the kids and wait for their men because that’s what husbands expect of them.”

I remembered. Sort of.

“Remember how he answers her? He says he doesn’t want to be her wife!”

What a jerk! At least that’s the way the comment seemed to me. Then I got to thinking about submission. See, I can remember being less than gracious about the long hours the hubby worked. There were times that I resented being left to tend the home fires, even though that was the job I had signed up for when I said, “I do” and I knew it.

So. Why did I resent it? I’ve thought about that long and hard, and I think it’s because I no longer felt like part of a union, a partnership. I felt more like what one of my nieces calls a “cook and clean,” and this really began to cause a problem in our marriage.

I prayed about it. I wanted to be a better wife, and I knew my husband was under a lot of stress. Unlike Gruwell, the extra hours he was putting in were mandatory.

This went on until one day the hubby shared the things that were going on at work. All of them. They just spilled out. Why hadn’t they spilled before? Because the hubby didn’t want to burden me!

Burden? The burden, in my eyes, was the separation between us. It was not being a part of his life. Washing his clothes and cooking his meals was NOT the same as sharing his hopes and his dreams. And yes, even his stress.

Somehow, when the floodgates opened and I knew what was going on, God answered my prayer to be a better wife (which is not to say He’s not still working on me). God changed my attitude. I did pretty much the same things that I had done before, but I did them for the hubby, instead of just because they needed to be done. When I was trying to help, the hubby seemed to sense it. He was more open about work, and our relationship improved.

Why did things improve? I think it was because I was being a help-meet, fulfilling my God-given role. The hubby’s God-given role is as the leader of the family. By necessity, if he’s the leader, I have to follow.

I don’t think my following means that the hubby never needs to support me, and neither does he. When the kids were teenage and I went back to school, he was my biggest supporter. And my typist. We didn’t have a computer, and for eighteen long months, he typed everything I wrote. I was going for my English certification. I wrote a LOT. He oversaw the kids when he was home, and he tried to help with chores, too. I don’t know if our arrangement would have worked long-term, but for eighteen months, it was a sacrifice the hubby was willing to make.

With that in mind, I asked him about about the “I don’t want to be your wife” comment. Every marriage goes through its hard times, and I am not sitting in judgment of what happened to Ms. Gruwell. I admire what she has accomplished with her students. The hubby and I wondered, though, if part of the problem in the movie was that her husband saw no end in sight to his being a “wife.” He did love her. That much was clear. He just couldn’t live with their reversal of roles.

Which brings me back to submission. For me, the Word of God creates order out of chaos. God created the partnership of marriage, and when married people don’t live like partners, His order is disrupted. I know I felt that disruption in my own marriage when I couldn’t help, and I think maybe Gruwell’s husband felt it when he couldn’t lead. Like my husband, perhaps he was willing to reverse roles for a time. Just not forever.

Like my husband’s not wanting to burden me with his stress, Ms. Gruwell meant well in what she accomplished with her students. If I remember the movie correctly, her husband did ask her if, given a choice, she would pick him or her students. What I remember her saying is,”How can you ask me that.” Such a response might lead one to believe that she would undoubtedly choose her husband, but maybe he felt that, by her actions, she had chosen her students instead.

If we want our world to be ordered, not chaotic, we need to pay attention to God’s instructions for creating that order. If we do, maybe our lives won’t be perfect, but they’re bound to run more smoothly. If we don’t, we need to be prepared to take the consequences of our actions.

At least that’s the way I see it.

22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 2

4Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,

27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Ephesians 5:21-28


4 Responses to “Submission–One Woman’s Thoughts”

  1. 1 Ornery's Wife October 9, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    I am a little surprised you didn’t raise some ire with this post! I expected to see lots of comments.

    My pastor spoke briefly on this topic this weekend, and I appreciated his point that submission is not the same as slavery, nor is it a license for those in authority to abuse or control their subjects. He points out that while we are to submit to our husbands, they are to love their wives like Christ loved he church–laying down His life for it! He also said that it is more of a partnership, where we are serving each another. I am much more interested in submitting to and partnering with a man who lays down his life for me than one who attempts to control me.

    Thanks for the post–you gave enough information that even though I didn’t see the movie, I got the point!

  2. 2 Becky October 10, 2007 at 5:46 am

    You are so right about the submission/slavery thing. I think a lot of people, Christians included, see being submissive as being a rug to walk on.

    My husband thought I’d make a lot of people mad, too. This was so hard to write! I couldn’t get the original post to make a point, so I had to start over. I’m glad this one said what it needed to say.

  3. 3 Deanna October 12, 2007 at 12:36 am

    Thank you Becky for your message. It really encouraged me to continue to be the wife God has called me to be. Some of the points you made explain the consequences good or bad to our actions in respect to submitting or not submitting to our husbands. Such as your comment, “God changed my attitude. I did pretty much the same things that I had done before, but I did them for the hubby, instead of just because they needed to be done. When I was trying to help, the hubby seemed to sense it. He was more open about work, and our relationship improved.” Total heart attitude is the key to our roles as the wives God created us to be. It’s an amazing gift from God to reap the spiritual rewards of obeying His word and then also having us feel not at peace when we’re not walking in His ways. We can then quickly(if we’re listening to the Holy Spirit) see our sin, confess, be forgiven and get back on track through the power of the Holy Spirit. There’s so much more to say but I have got to get going. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back on and type more of what’s on my heart in regards to your message and the scripture you used at the end. And also, what led me to your site and to reading your message. Thanks again!

  4. 4 Becky October 12, 2007 at 5:57 am

    Deanna, I am so glad that you stopped by. I agree with you. I am so thankful the Holy Spirit nudges me when I get off track! Please do come back, and may God bless your weekend.

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